OPINION

Economic impact of COVID-19

Rep. Pat Proctor
Rep. Pat Proctor

On Monday, I began my first term serving you as your representative in Topeka. I wanted to take just a moment to share with you the issues that will be at the top of the agenda for your Legislature in the people’s house.

First are concerns over COVID-19 and its economic impact that looms large in the Statehouse. Last week, the CDC announced that Kansas was last in the nation in the rate of administering on-hand vaccinations and, while we are getting better, our Department of Health and Environment still has a lot of catching up to do.  Likewise, the Kansas Department of Labor is still woefully behind in meeting the desperate need for unemployment compensation. Despite the infusion of millions of dollars into the unemployment system this summer, there are still thousands of Kansans waiting for benefits, stuck in line behind tens of thousands of fraudulent claims. Both departments are in serious need of legislative oversight.

But probably the top COVID-19 priority is rebuilding the Kansans economy after the devastating coronavirus economic shutdown. Last fall, Kansas ranked near the bottom in the nation in employment recovery, a trend we have got to reverse. A big part of the answer is getting the cost of business ownership under control beginning with property taxes. Leavenworth County topped the state this year with the highest increase in property valuations (6.8%) but other counties weren’t far behind. These backdoor tax hikes to circumvent the tax lid were destroying our economy even before COVID-19. We need to bring accountability back to our property tax system to bring jobs back to Kansas. I am looking closely at legislation pending in the House to do just that.

Another top agenda item for the Legislature this year will be passing the Value Them Both amendment to reverse the Kansas Supreme Court’s disastrous April 2019 decision and restore the rights of Kansans, through their legislators, to place common sense restrictions on the abortion industry. As I promised during the election, I will support the resolution to put this amendment to a vote of the people.

I am also working to fulfill my other promises to the people of Leavenworth and Fort Leavenworth. I have already filed and sponsored a bill, co-sponsored by the entire Leavenworth House delegation, to build a veterans’ home in northeast Kansas. And I am working on legislation to improve retirement benefits for our corrections officers to better reflect the huge sacrifices that they make to protect and serve us.

Thank you for the trust and confidence that you have placed in me. I am honored to serve you as your state representative.

Rep. Pat Proctor represents District 41 of the Kansas House of Representatives.